It's interesting how we sometimes use too much pressure when handling cattle to get the job done as quick as possible, but accept the default cost of taking an extra couple hours to go fix broken fences when things got a little too rushed.

Dylan Biggs, a cattle handling expert, taught a Stockmanship Workshop on Wednesday, August 9, in Champion, which was put on by the Foothills Forage and Grazing Association. There was a two hour classroom session at the Community Hall, and the rest of the day took place at Snake Valley Farms, just East of Champion.

The day was a hands-on clinic, where participants were given a chance to actually work the cattle using new techniques.

Biggs says, if producers could take just one thing from the day, it would if the cattle you're working get bothered and decide to run off, the worst thing you can do is chase after them.

"Once these cattle are bothered, the worst thing you can do is use more speed to try and control that movement. The fact of the matter is, these cattle are agitated and anxious, and going after them with speed is just going to make things worse."

dylan biggs2 champion aug 2017Dylan Biggs takes classroom learning outside at Snake Valley Farms East of Champion, AB.

Producers need to get the right kind of movement when working their cattle, which is the cattle walking with their heads level to their shoulder blades. One of the tips he offered, was to move against the flow of cattle along the side, instead of pushing directly from the back.

To encourage the next generation on the family farm to get involved in the beef industry, Biggs says we need to make working cattle a more enjoyable experience for everyone in the family.

"Regardless of the best intentions, because of human impulse, and because of the things we just instinctively do around cattle, we end up making a lot of jobs harder than they need to be. As a result of that, it ends up being a frustrating situation. As a young lad, if I wanted to hear my dad swear, the best place to do that was in the corral. If we can approach it so we can make the cattle more calm, more quite, then our kids won't be so reluctant, and won't have so many anxious experiences working stock."

The next step will be putting all this new knowledge to work in the pasture.

dylan biggs3 champion aug 2017Ranchers gather around Dylan Biggs as he explained the handling principles he demonstrated on the herd.

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